Romanticizing Walmart

One stop shopping for when you forget everything. Benchapple Via Wikimedia

Despite its bad reputation, Walmart truly is a glorious place

A staple of American culture being forced on us – Walmart, the multinational retail
conglomerate, has its iron hooks in me, and I am sick of the slander that surrounds this wonderful, universal store. While Walmart has certainly been graced by the weird, it is undeniably the most practical and magical place I have ever shopped.

As a wee child, travelling to Saskatoon for a city trip was not complete without a trip to the Walmart supercentre. Where else would you stop on your way home for everything that you forgot to buy? Not only can you get groceries, but you can also stock up on craft supplies, get your family photos printed, replace your blender, and watch the movie of the day on one or all the varying sizes of flat screen televisions. Once you were finished at the check-out, you could head on over to get a snack at McDonalds or Tim Hortons. Why go out for dinner and a show when Walmart provides all of that and more by just walking through the sliding doors?

Walmart has gained a bad rap over the last few years; we have seen years of Walmart lore. Internet trends such as “People of Walmart” showed customers in compromising outfits and hairstyles or people pulling up to buy groceries in their pyjamas or costumes. There is no shortage of political slander T-shirts that you cannot wear anywhere other than your house and Walmart as you certainly cannot wear them to work. It was hard to forget the classic 2013 Walmart “ball pit challenge” where someone would jump over top of the cage and causing the balls to explode from the confinements of the bungee cords. The Walmart ball pits are a true staple of my childhood. I was never daring enough to attempt the infamous challenge, but it certainly had me convinced that it would be like landing on a cloud.

Despite the lore, there is something that is undeniably charming about Walmart. It is the loudest and quietest place I have ever been. There is always noise, like a crying baby or an employee stocking shelves, but they always blend into white noise. You do not feel like you are wandering through the void but somewhere pleasant, like a nature hike with low priced laundry detergent. The tranquility within the supercentre is unmatched. You do not even notice all the employee’s bustling around stocking shelves and disappearing behind doors. I always seem to tune out the intercom, paging workers to different departments across the store. I could never understand the intercom anyways, but that is beside the point.

Time does not exist in Walmart. Time begins to slow with the friendly Walmart greeter ushering you in the sliding doors. From there, you can begin to travel down the glossy cement towards whichever section you would like. Perhaps you will peruse the magazine rack and indulge in ridiculous tabloid headlines like “Pete Davidson and Queen Elizabeth are getting married!” From there you may look at the clothing section and debate buying a graphic T-Shirt that says “Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss” with the peace sign emoji on it. Most of my Walmart trips take more than an hour and often only feel like 15 minutes.

Walmart is magical and mysterious in its own unique way, but it is also a lawless city. The absolute obscurity of people that are too lazy to take their items back to the right section when they decide not to buy them has me in hysterics. My brain goes into limbo when I see a jug of milk sitting in the clothing section next to a T-Shirt with a grouchy Tweety bird on it saying “What do you expect from me? It’s Monday!” Walmart is truly geographically diverse. Seeing items that belong in the home section travel all the way over to the gardening section has me thinking like a poet: the places it’s been, the things that it’s seen! I will never recover from seeing a customer leave a tube of mascara in a freezer. The number of shenanigans and tomfooleries that occur in the aisles of Walmart honestly seems like it’s encouraged at this point. Racks of bicycles and skateboards are on full display, ready to be ridden down the aisles. The sports section has free weights for purchase that are often used for power lifting competitions by the rack. Baseball bats out on display have already been broken in before purchase by contributing to the mini grand slam.

The accessibility of Walmart is unmatched. Even in my darkest hours nobody has come through in a situation like Walmart has; whether I’m in need of a glue gun to help me finish a project or Keurig pods to help me get through early morning classes. I have even gone into Walmart to record noises of things that I did not want to pay for from SFX stores. The look of passivity on the Walmart greeters’ face when I frolicked in the store with a recorder, microphone and boom pole was something I will never forget. I just got a kind-hearted smile and wave from the yellow-vested man. It really made me think about what the Walmart greeter must have seen during his time manning the store front. If a university student carrying audio equipment was the least of their troubles, I cannot imagine what goes on during the late hours.

Walmart is the working class’s store. All kinds of people shop at Walmart whether it’s their day off from work and they are wearing their three-year-old sweatpants, or they are just getting off work from an office job. Despite some of the exotic and absurd outfits that people might wear to buy deodorant, it is typically made up of everyday schmoozes who are just there to buy something nice to eat, wear, or do. The beauty of Walmart is that they perfectly embody the consensus of cringey working-class trends. Minions are still sported on T-shirts and fidget spinners still exist in the toy section. Cringey trends are only a faint reminder of the power that Walmart holds. It has the power to unite the working class.


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